Blake Griffin: “Lob City is done”

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Bringing in Doc Rivers as coach has brought a palpable change around the Clippers — they are expected to contend for a title. Rivers is his usual positive self, but he doesn’t shy away from title talk. Rather, he is challenging the Clippers to live up to it — he told Chris Paul that the best point guard in the game hasn’t done anything in the NBA yet.

There is now a seriousness around the Clippers mission, a new team identity. It is time to put away childish things.

Like all the lobs.

Look at what Blake Griffin told ESPN about the team’s changing identity, as reported at ESPNLosAngeles.com.

“Lob City doesn’t exist anymore. Lob City is done,” Griffin told ESPN’s Shelley Smith in an interview this week. “We’re moving on and we’re going to find our identity during training camp and that will be our new city. No more Lob City.”

“Our offense is going to have a totally different look this year,” said Griffin, who added that he’d done a lot of work in the offseason on his face-up game from 10 to 15 feet. “Our offense is going to have a lot of movement and floor spacing. I’m looking forward to it.”

The Clippers shouldn’t (and will not) completely abandon the back door cut and the lob (or the alley-oop in transition) — not because they want to put on a show, but rather because it leads to a dunk and that is the single most efficient shot in the game. Griffin doesn’t miss many when he is throwing it down through the rim, neither does DeAndre Jordan.

That said, the Clippers have shooters who can space the floor better now with Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick. That creates room and options for CP3 to do his thing. There should be great ball movement. The Clipper offense is still going to be top three in the league, maybe No. 1.

The question is really what kind of defensive culture can Rivers install. That is the end of the court that will make them real contenders.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.